We started out this series by looking at how we’re called to be actively transforming our minds, and not being passively conformed to this world. But now we finish this series by looking at how we’re to be actively renewing our world with good, and not being passively overcome with evil. The end of Romans 12 calls us to love our enemies, provide for those who do evil to us, and to overcome evil with good. This is just about the hardest thing God calls us to do in this life: to look evil in the face, sincerely forgive, and seek to do good. Trusting in God’s justice, using anger for good, and confronting evil are each things which can pose real challenges for us. But in view of God’s mercy, our hearts can be melted down and transformed, and his mercies can slowly become our mercies.
Romans can seem like a complex book of doctrine, but for Paul it was a missional letter. His life had been devoted to speaking the gospel, to the point where he had exhausted every opportunity around him. He was even willing to stand on the precipice of hell and be willing to throw himself in for the sake of those who weren’t in Christ (not that he ever could). What would it look like for us to know that we’ve exhausted every opportunity in our local community, and left no stone left unturned?
It can sometimes seem like church is a place for polite, clean-cut people who have their lives together, and broken people can feel on the outer at church. But God says that church is a place where broken people should feel at home. Even though we carry this great, glorious treasure of the gospel, “we have this treasure in jars of clay”–in polystyrene cups. God entrusts his gospel to broken people, and in our weakness and brokenness, the light of Christ shines all the more brightly.
In Luke 15 we hear three stories describing God’s great joy in welcoming us into his house, ultimately at a great cost to himself. In the gospel God shows hospitality to us. Even though we were strangers, he welcomed us into his household. Because of this mercy, how could we not open our lives and homes to welcome the stranger?
We all want to be loving, joyful and peaceful, but most of us are hesitant to ask God to make us patient. Because patience means that we’re admitting there are wrongs in our life, and that we have to face them: in our families, in our workplaces, in our churches. But God shows us the perfect example of patience by looking wrong in the eye, and committing to see it through to the end. Even to the end of sending his Son to die on a cross, to save a world full of people he’s been patient with for thousands of years.
How can we burn in the Spirit without burning out? How can we be offering our bodies as living sacrifices, without dying from exhaustion? In view of God’s mercy, we’ve been given a Spirit of zeal. And because of Christ’s finished work, he promises to give us rest for our souls. But how can we balance our lives with zealous service and rest? In this topical talk, Mitch unpacks this idea, of how to live a life of zealous, sustainable sacrifice for God, in view of his mercy.
We all want to be loved with complete devotion and sincerity, but we also know how difficult it is to do. In the face of all of our half-hearted love, this passage says: “Let love be sincere;” literally, without hypocrisy. In view of God’s absolute, proven sincerity of love in the gospel, we’re called to pour that love out to others with complete sincerity of heart. It can be costly and painful, but God pours his love into us, and so he is transforming us into a people who love each other with utter devotion and sincerity.
Are you gifted? It’s easy to feel like you don’t have much of a gift, or that you have much less to offer than others. But in Romans 12, we hear that in the community of Christ God gives gifts to everyone, and everyone is valued. And all of these gifts are given to us from the Giver, to give to one another, and to bless one another. In the gospel, we belong to one another–our gifts are to lead us to humility, not pride.
It’s so easy to be passive, and to become like the world around us. But in the gospel, we’re called to be distinct–to be transformed by grace, for our whole lives to be made new by the mercy of God. In this talk, Sam walks us through some of the challenges in this, as well as some of the great blessings that come with this transformed, new life.
As we begin our series, looking at how the gospel transforms our community, we took a whirlwind tour through Romans, looking at sin, wrath, faith, grace and the new people God is creating. After all of this, Romans 12:1 says “therefore,” in view of everything that has come before, this is how we are to live as Christians. In view of God’s mercies, it’s reasonable and rational to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is the first idea Romans 12 calls us to grasp as a gospel community: our entire lives, 24/7, 360 degrees, are to be lived in worship to God.